How Would Churchill Tweet?

If Churchill tweeted, we’d be reading very different tweets from those we read from the president and other political leaders today. I don’t suggest what he would say. No one can know that. But I do know how he would go about it — and I suggest that his methods offer an excellent example for today’s leaders.

.. First, Churchill avoided repaying vilification in kind. Instead he used humor, irony, plays on words. This lowered the temperature and took the sting out of debate.

.. Blunting insults with humor let Churchill off the hook. In the ensuing laughter, people forgot that he’d never responded to the accusation. “I have to measure the length of the response to any question by the worth, meaning, and significance of that question,” he said to an angry inquisitor — which avoided any answer at all.

.. Second, Churchill rarely attacked someone personally in public, though he didn’t hesitate to lampoon their well-known traits. During a loquacious speech by an MP who questioned his veracity, judgment, and even morals, Churchill interrupted: “I can well understand the honorable member speaking for practice, which he badly needs.”

.. in avoiding jibes, he did not even defend himself. The defense would come later, in a carefully worded statement at a time of his choosing. This was much more gratifying than outbursts in the Twitterverse.

.. Third, Churchill would often use interesting allegories or images rather than vicious barbs when confronted by opponents.

.. Lastly — and perhaps most important — even though the political divide was as wide in his time as in ours, Churchill fostered respect and collegiality. Intrinsic to his methods was an underlying respect for opponents. To him they were not enemies, merely honorable people who were mistaken.